Keepsakes of 2 wars land on American Legion doorstep
By MARY ANN GREIER
For The Review
PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — It took Scott Wallace four days to go through all the contents of a medium-sized file box that was anonymously dropped off at the American Legion Post 336 in Painesville.
Wallace, the historian director, said he was fascinated by the findings.
“I know I have all my military information, but mine is not nearly that thick,” Wallace said. “This guy kept everything.”
The box originally belonged to Matt Steitz of Mentor, who was born in 1921. Steitz kept detailed records while serving in the U.S. Army.
He was active duty in World War II from 1942 to 1946 and in the Korean War from 1950 to 1952, and in between, from 1946 to 1950, Steitz was in the Enlisted Reserve Corp, his military records confirmed.
Through the large pile of records, Steitz kept record jackets, special orders, temporary passes, receipts, ration cards, war bonds, awards, ranks and other personnel records.
“Some of this stuff, you just can’t find anymore and some of these places no longer exist, like Camp Perry, where he was stationed,” said Wallace.
Steitz also kept a daily journal of his experiences during World War II. In it, he discussed his day-to-day schedules, meals, and duties.
“What I found interesting was what he did in his pastime, how he kept busy,” Wallace said. “He would draw pictures and write songs and poems. Some of it really made me cry, because you could feel his loneliness.”
In addition to somber poems, Steitz wrote about many things that sparked feelings of nostalgia.
“We went to Uptown Theatre at E. 106 and St. Clair and saw ‘The Pied Piper’ with Monty Woolley, Roddy McDowall, Anne Baxter and J. Carrol Naish,” Steitz said in a journal entry on Nov. 19, 1942.
He also mentioned going to see “George Washington Slept Here,” ”White Cargo” and “In Old Oklahoma” in later entries.
“He saw some great movies,” Wallace said.
Steitz received an honorable discharge from the Army in 1952 and later pursued a career in accounting.
He died in 2014, according to his obituary.
“He seemed to be an amazing man,” Wallace said. “What I would like to see is this box to get back to his family.”